There are almost 50,000 crack cocaine- and opiate-users in the North West of England according to new Public Health England figures, representing an increase of 3,500 over the past five years and prompting experts to warn that the drugs could get even more popular as they are now available at "pocket money" prices.
Following the release of PHE's latest report, which puts the estimated number of crack and opiate users between the ages of 15 and 64 in the North West at 49,871, concerned addiction experts at UK Addiction Treatment (UKAT) have said that the numbers do not include those using cocaine in powder form, amphetamines, ecstasy, or cannabis.
Based on data from users identified across the North West between 1st March 2016 and 31st March 2017, the report also reveals that there are some 3,758 young people aged 15-24 using opiates and/or crack cocaine in the region - a demographic of particular concern to UKAT.
“Public Health England’s data clearly shows that an alarming number of teenagers and young adults are addicted to these incredibly potent substances," said UKAT’s CEO and former addict, Eytan Alexander. “They’re seeking the feeling of euphoria at pocket money prices - crack rocks can be purchased for as little as a fiver with dealers available any time of day at the click of a button.
“Teenagers misusing crack and opiates at such an early age will not only suffer with the physical effects of the drugs, but the drugs could impact their education, overall achievement in life, and expose them to a criminal environment at a young age without full understanding of the risks and consequences of their actions," Eytan added.
Far from being an issue limited to the younger generation, the number of people recorded as using crack cocaine only between the ages of 25 and 34 stands at 9,787, with a further 36,326 people aged 35-64 addicted to opiates.
“The impact of a person misusing these drugs in later life has a knock-on effect on their family, children, spouses as well as their own personal health, which will deteriorate at a much faster pace if drug use continues, and for some, will prove fatal," Eytan said.